Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War

Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Dogs of War

When living in and traveling to other countries you have different experiences that you have to adapt to or accept. Those experiences can be enjoyable, entertaining, tolerable, unpleasant or pretty fucking awful. You grow from these experiences. You learn. Your perceptions on life and the world around you can be fundamentally changed, and how we deal with these situations is a testament to our heritage as a species. Often when placed in different scenarios we are stripped down to the core of our emotive state. The basic evolutionary instinct that keeps us alive. The rush of adrenaline that sparks muscle movement and synaptic pathways to aid our swift reaction in handling the unknown. It is of this I wish to speak. Dealing with that which has not been dealt with previously.

Imagine, if you will, a long and dimly lit apartment. Built into the mountainside, the front is above street level, however the rear is at ground. Towards the end a dark kitchen sits, lit only by the faint orange haze of interrupted, external sodium lighting. Carrying crockery and glassware the main lighting for the room is engaged by elbow. There, on the surface, it sits. It’s antenna twitching as if in shock in the vivid light. Lurching into motion the items are safely deposited on an adjacent surface and a cupboard wrenched open. Grasping at the canister, the lid is ripped from the top and the fog of death leaps from the peak. The creature shakes. It scuttles forth across the surface seeking sanctuary inside the nearby toaster. As the pyrethroid formulation begins to course through its body a growing heat can be felt slowing cooking its exposed layers. Eventually the blissful escape ends all suffering.

OK! OK. Slightly dramatic for one of my frequent confrontations with cockroaches, however there is more. Government advice suggests spraying “death fog” around the frames of all entrances to an apartment, including, if necessary, windows and other access points such as grids and grates. Sensibly, such procedures should be performed in daytime when it is possible to see all surfaces and entrances without hindrance. In practice, one would only normally follow said advice when under attack. It is this, which, in the early hours of Monday morning, almost lead to my demise.

Having successfully executed the internal invader I proceeded, like a Marshal of the Wild West, to smoke out any additional intruders and secure my town. Once the door and window frames had been suitably doused I attacked the grid and grate. It was here where I entered a scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. They did, henceforth, pour from the grid. Each horrid beast clambering over another. I sprayed. I sprayed, I sprayed and I sprayed until I could spray no more. As they tried to escape the life-giving fumes I widened my field. Anything in the way was hit. The plant, which, let’s face it, was pretty much dead in any case. The floor. The door. My foot. They were running around my feet like a Lilliputian army. I feared they would bring me down. My bare feet exposed to their compact, bugger compact, grotesque bodies. I will, as I did earlier, use the word scuttle. It is probably the only word in the English language which can adequately describe the movement of the beloved cockroach. How foul a scene. How disgusting an experience. Where the fuck was the flame thrower when I needed it. Saying that, I could have improvised, as any gay man should, and used the Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a match. Bugger the bastards. If I’d had anything else to hand I would probably have burnt down the entire building. Unfortunately, this is one of the tribulations of foreign dwelling, that and the door man doesn’t speak any bloody English so, save crawling around on the floor imitating a cockroach, there’s no point trying to get him involved to sort it out.

Returning to the flat I must shower as the tender cockroach perfume appears to be burning the skin off my foot. The pain similar to that of rubbing chilli oil in your eye.

Christ I need a gin.

There lies now a stream of these vile beasts across the terrace in a failed attempt at escape. A testament to the victory of human survival. Oh yeah, twenty is more than a bloody army in my book. You just try facing it. Next time I’m calling Kate Capshaw.

4 September 2007